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Kathy | 2019 | A Celebration of Phenomenal Women

“Confidence and intelligence will never stop being beautiful.”

-author unknown

I love hearing stories about women who have stepped out in huge ways to try something new and way out of their comfort zone. It is amazing to see how much that “new” and sometimes scary step turns into something so life-changing for them you’d never guess they had any hesitations in the first place.

Kathy is a devoted mother of 4, a nurse manager here in the Bay Area and a ballroom dancer with the sweetest of smiles. She shared with me that she never would have imagined developing such a love for ballroom dancing, let alone be competing in dance competitions. Needless to say, dance has impacted her greatly and I loved being able to capture Kathy in beautiful outfits she has used in competitions.

Most of all, I loved being able to capture the sweet smile of a woman who continues to celebrate, grow, and learn from the journey that her life has been and what it has yet to be.

Kathy, thank you for trusting me to capture you in this season of your beautiful life. The best is yet to come.

Images | Heartbox Photography

Hair & makeup | Becky Lau of Beautiful One Makeup

“In my real world I am a mom and a nurse. I have been a registered nurse for 31 years and a mom for 21 years. I have twin girls and two boys that bring me much joy and are the center of my life. I don't know what I would do without them!

In my fantasy world, I am a ballroom dancer although my teacher always told me it is not a fantasy anymore, it is my reality! Unfortunately, I had to leave an unhealthy marriage but the past seven years have been such growth years in my life. I've struggled with weight issues my entire life and focus now on healthy eating and exercising regularly. “

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“Balancing a stressful management career and family left very little time for myself and I found ballroom dancing to be my saving grace. It was my escape after a busy work day. It was something I had always wanted to do.

Entering that dance studio over 6 years ago changed my life. I have never been surrounded by so many positive, supportive people who, instead of being judgmental and critical were always uplifting.

I never imagined that I would be out there on the competition floor in those beautiful costumes, make up, hair and spray tan. But they told me I could and I did! The excitement is indescribable.

My mom died at the young age of 53. From her I learned that family is the most important thing in your life, you must do what is best for you, that life is short and you have to enjoy each moment.

From dancing, I learned that comparing yourself and your journey to others is the most damaging thing you can do to your self esteem. I've learned that your confidence needs to come from within.

I have learned that you have to love yourself and take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. I was convinced that I would die at this age as well and as I turned 53 this year, I am starting to believe that I will be living a long life.”

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“I appreciate that I have had the opportunity to learn and grow and now I am able to support and mentor others in their career and coping with illness. I appreciate that I have more strength to be uplifting to others.

I am honored to have my patients and their families share their lives with me and that I have the opportunity to make a difference. And I appreciate that I have a beautiful outlet - ballroom dancing - that connects me with a wonderful family of friends who support my journey. Above all I am proud that my children are thriving and doing so well now.

When I first separated from my ex, I purchased a silver band inscribed with the words "Ancora Imparo." It is attributed to Michelangelo and means I am still learning.

I have worn it almost every day since and it is my reminder to be kind to myself, that we learn from every situation and grow each day. It reminds me to not give up.”



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“Ballroom dance has challenged me to do things I never imagined I could do and that has boosted my confidence and self esteem tremendously.

Do I still struggle?

I think we all do but to be around people who support your journey makes such a difference. And nothing compares to that magical feeling of floating across the dance floor and connecting with your partner.

What looks so easy takes much work and that work is the most rewarding part, not the end result.”

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“The best advice I have ever received as an adult was to not quit dancing after my first instructor left - not because I am still dancing but because it taught me how worthwhile it is to challenge yourself and not run away when you are faced with a challenging situation.

Sometimes you must step out of your comfort zone to get better, to learn, to grow, to experience new things. You never get better if you give up. My favorite quote: "Inhale Confidence, Exhale Doubt"

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Karmen | 2019 | A Celebration of Phenomenal Women

“Love yourself for who you are, and trust me, if you are happy from within,

you are the most beautiful person, and your smile is your best asset.”

-Illeana D’Cruz

Karmen Reed is a Money-Mindset Coach and Consultant based here in the Bay Area. I had the privilege of recently photographing this lovely woman and learning not only more about her personal background but also about what inspired her to do the work that she does to help other women achieve their optimal success when it comes to their mindset and outlook on finances. She is also a devoted wife and mother with one of the warmest laughs and sunniest smiles I have ever encountered. If there is one thing I noticed about Karmen from the beginning is that she genuinely passionate about learning all that she can as well as teaching others so that they, too, can grow in their own professional and personal endeavors.

I am extremely honored to share with all of you some of the final images from this lovely woman’s photoshoot with Heartbox Photography. As always, a heartfelt thanks to Kathleen Tinney of A-List Makeup for her beautiful work on Karmen’s styling of hair and makeup for this special experience!

Here’s to celebrating phenomenal women everywhere, especially to women like Karmen who set out to help women realize their own inner-awesomeness.

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“I was born and raised on the island of Brac in a little Mediterranean country Croatia. I came to America in 1987 when I was 20 years old because I fell in love and could not see anything that is in my way of that happiness.

My journey was that of learning. I was always a very curious being, always looking for opportunities to learn more… about everything. This has really allowed me the courage to start my own entrepreneurial journey. I was never alone on that journey. I was surrounded with people who love me and they were my biggest supporters and cheer leaders.

I also always had a mentor, a coach, a community I could rely on for support and help, as much as being challenged to rise up and take steps I was afraid of. This type of environment allowed me to thrive. I was learning about myself, business and the world. This inspired me to share everything I learned, to give back to women who are on a similar journey of empowerment, financial independence, and living their best life every day.

I learned to be a masterful coach. I started mentoring and coaching women and helping them create an amazing relationship with money so they can thrive in every area of their life. I absolutely LOVE watching women go through beautiful transformations when it comes to self-awareness and empowerment.

It is my goal to help many women create an amazing relationship with money, because how we do money is how we do everything.”

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Portraits by Heartbox Photography. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved._1593.jpg

“The best advice I have ever received is from my mom when I was a child:

Go explore and find your own answers.

These words are imprinted inside my soul. I am definitely an explorer. This has become my DNA blueprint.”

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“I believe that the beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, and that we have to be that for ourselves.

Our empowerment comes from the place of awareness about our self-talk and our emotions.

Our self-confidence comes from our self-empowerment.

We as women have so much to offer to the world, and the world is hungry all the time. When a confident woman offers her love, care, perspective, knowledge, vision to the world, the world stops and listens.”

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“My message to all women today: rise and thrive!

Create a legacy you will be proud of, step into your brave, and show the world your love. This is what beauty is in my eyes.”

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What do you appreciate most about your life now?

“I have an amazing husband, I have two adult children, I have family abroad, and my husband’s big and complicated family is near and dear with many activities, we are surrounded by great friends, and we are very active socially.

I used to think that these are my disadvantages when it comes to my entrepreneurial journey, because these are my obligations as well. Relationships that are strong require work, time, and commitment consistently.

I looked at some of my colleagues who were seemingly more successful and was envious of their freedom from close relationships, mortgage, and family, because they can focus all their time and energy into their business.

What I realized is that my envy was so unfounded. I realized that I am the one with everything I need, and my relationships are my support, my cheerleaders, my biggest fans and that was an advantage.”

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“I love my life and I want to help other

women fall in love with theirs!”

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